Thursday, April 01, 2010


1972. Mike Weller has published character used for Blighty 'underground' comics work - English comix artist character 'Captain' or 'Cap' Stelling.

Internationally, comics were slowly recognized as part of late sixties popular media alongside film, science fiction and rock music. Finding popular North American form through classic newspaper 'Sunday Funnies' and US comic books, it took further twenty years before comics finally found entry in marketing bracket as 'graphic novel'.

In early seventies publishers like Rolling Stone magazine involved with new popular arts media - still index-linked in mind to '60s prosperity - were planning hugely ambitious visual media books. I've blogged here and here on stalled '70s graphic arts projects involving then London-resident and literary Beat guru William S. Burroughs.

Another graphics project that seemingly was never to see light of day made appearance again last year on Maclean's Canada current affairs website after forty-year sleep. Looking for material to feed google-blog and compose hard-copy Beat Generation Ballads text, found telegram from 1973 inviting Mike Weller to view a history of the sixties project entitled 'The Someday Funnies'.

Weller was living in depths of south London without telephone connection. Awoken by telegram boy on motorized bicycle to world outside Penge, Cap Stelling took number 12 bus to counterculture literary agent Ed Victor's London home where author Michel Choquette was commissioning work from UK artists.

Invited to contribute, Stelling discovered almost entire swinging sixties art, fashion, science, media and culture had already been interpreted in graphics and cartoon by celebrities of the day - which included North American comic artists who'd earned celebrity status through attention by pop artists Öyvind Fahlström, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Only topic left in programme of 1960s untouched for comic book interpretation, apart from Six-Day 1967 Arab-Israeli war (early 1970s found Egypt stockpiling Soviet weapons with Syria on board) was 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

from beat generation ballads sequence

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